MSNBC's Joy Reid: Paul Ryan 'seemed like Donald Trump's kid brother who wouldn't stand up to him in a fight'
Joy Reid (Photo: Screen capture)

A Wednesday evening panel on Lawrence O'Donnell's "Last Word" could easily be called "dump on Paul Ryan" night at MSNBC. The consensus among the panelists was that Ryan was a complete waste of space as the Speaker of the House and it signals the Republicans will likely lose in November.


Host and commentator Joy Reid quoted Republican Rick Wilson, who famously said "everything Donald Trump touches dies." She noted that the president ultimately was the one to take down Ryan as well as the GOP.

"Paul Ryan has been the ultimate triumph of form over stance," she said after O'Donnell's opening commentary. "The Beltway media adored him. Even though, at least eight years ago Paul Krugman called him the 'flimflam man.' His numbers never add up. He has these Ayn Randian ideas of ending the social safety net. He thinks it's some sort of moral hazard to help the poor. He wants to end food stamps, privatize Medicare, privatize part of Social Security. All these ideas unpopular with the American people but popular with political journalists and elected Republicans."

Republicans, according to her, saw Ryan as a "savior" who could unmake "The New Deal," credited to Democrats. However, Americans would never support it and the GOP was too fearful to ultimately kill it when they had the opportunity.

"He was never a skilled Speaker," she continued. "When it came to Donald Trump he behaved with nothing -- I can't describe it with any other word other than cowardice. He wanted his tax cuts for the rich, for concessions that he was willing to let Donald Trump do anything, and he forgot he's fourth in line to the presidency. He runs a co-equal branch of government. People who have been Speaker had immense power and wheeled it. He seemed like Donald Trump's kid brother who didn't know how to stand up to him in a fight."

Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin agreed, noting Ryan made a political calculation that Trump would have enough discipline and sense of responsibility to behave appropriately. He was wrong.

"One of his other great projects was to recapture power for the Congress," she noted. "As bizarre as that sounds, yes, he made all kinds of white papers and announcements about taking back power from the executive branch, which had been delegated out by Congress."

Rubin noted that Ryan caved to that principle when Trump came into office.

"And that, if anything else, will be the long term legacy of one who came with the idea that there was an imbalance in our system, presidents were too powerful, the people's house was the most responsible, the most democratic of our branches of government and he frittered it away," she said. "That is the great tragedy of Paul Ryan and I think that plus the enormous debt is what he's going to be known for. I think he leaves with not even apparently the guts to do some important things on the way out the door. He's not running for reelection, why not get rid of Devin Nunes now? Wouldn't that be fabulous? He's too afraid to do that."

Watch the full conversation below: